As a young priest, I was assigned to a parish in South Minneapolis. At the end of the block was the Braecount House. Lavina Braecount, the lady of the house, was a gregarious and hospitable person.
Her ancestry was Eastern European and she held firmly to the conviction that the Christmas Season runs far beyond the “Twelve Days” of the West. For her, the Season came to an end on the evening of February 2nd.
She hosted a Christmas gathering on that evening for the neighbors. She provided fine foods and drink. Neighbors looked forward to the annual event.
At the end of the evening, before we were allowed to go home, Lavina would announce that it was now time to put Christmas to bed—it was time to undecorate her house!
She organized us into teams to “take down”, “wrap up”, and “box” the hundreds of Christmas items throughout the house. After the “boxing”, all had to be hauled to the attic for storage.
The last task was the dragging of the Christmas tree to the front lawn. But before the tree left the house, a large branch of the tree was sawed off and taken to the attic and there nailed to the roof. This talisman of Christmas hung in the attic all year, extending the spirit of Christmas throughout the year.
National and cultural traditions bring meaning and soul to the human spirit. Lavina shared some of the “Christmas Soul” with her neighbors.
Fr. Steve Adrian